The impact of digital music distribution continues to be felt, with smaller labels gaining publicity and sales while the majors reel.

While major labels have suffered a sales slump that they attribute to file sharing, independent labels are profiting from the impact of such technology.

The independents traditionally exercise a leaner, less top-heavy and corporate business set-up, and are experiencing better sales in the current climate. They are also hiring former big-label executives and taking on former big-label artists as the majors engage in cost-cutting exercises to keep their shareholders happy.

CEO of US indie label TVT Records told Reuters: "Our market share is up dramatically from last year, and we expect to have very robust growth this year. We aren't the only independent that has had a record-breaking 2003."

The little labels say the prevalent profit-focus of the majors has diverted them from delivering cutting-edge talent – so the indies have been able to get their music heard.

In a sign of the times, influential UK independent Warp Records this weekend made its entire back catalogue available online through Warp is home to a number of influential artists, including Aphex Twin and Autechre.

Warp Records boss Steve Beckett said: "The MP3 player is the most important thing to happen to music technology since the Walkman, and it seems people really are embracing the digital age. The results have been surprisingly positive."

An article on Motley Fool reflects the growing pains of the music business after digital distribution: "The entire pre-recorded music industry can afford to get leaner because the CD is dead. I mean, beyond it serving as a flawed disposable medium for portable mix tapes, what's the point?", it asks.

Looking forward, this report predicts: "Everything that has happened in the music industry over the past few years points to a fragmented sector that will ultimately reward smaller sums to a greater number of artists. Even a niche will have a niche to serve as the experience is further specialized and personalized."